Even young children understand the idea of a home, and they can extend this concept to understand how animals have homes as well. This animal habitat lesson plan for first grade has some great ideas about how to introduce students to the animals and their living environments.
Importance of a Home
To introduce this lesson plan to first graders, discuss the importance of a home as a class. Talk about the different benefits of living in a home – it keeps you warm in the winter, provides shade in the summer, holds food and other belongings, provides a place to sleep, etc. Ask students what it would be like if they lived in a desert instead of in their homes. Then explain that animals have homes as well. In fact, some animals actually live in the desert. Tell students that animals’ homes are called “habitats." Let students know that you will be learning about three habitats: the ocean, the rainforest, and the Arctic.
Three Habitats: Ocean, Rainforest, and Arctic
Ask students to describe each of these habitats. Then give each student three blank notecards. Have them use a blue crayon to draw an ocean on the first notecard, a green crayon to draw a rainforest on the second notecard, and a third crayon (of their choice) to draw the Arctic on the third notecard. Tell them that you will call out the name of an animal, and that they should pick up the notecard that shows the animal’s habitat. After each response, give them some additional information about the animal and its habitat.
For example, you might say “Polar Bear. Where does a polar bear live? That’s right, a polar bear lives in the Arctic. A polar bear has white fur, which matches the white snow in its habitat. That way other animals won’t be able to see it in the snow. Monkey. What is a monkey’s habitat? That’s right, a monkey lives in the rainforest. There are a lot of trees in the rainforest. A monkey swings from tree to tree using its long arms. Sometimes it even swings by its tail!"
Other examples of animals in these three habits:
Ocean – starfish, lobster, octopus, shark, sea turtle,
Arctic – moose, white hare, reindeer, snowy owl,
Rainforest – snake, tree frog, alligator, parrot.
Have students choose an animal and draw a picture of it in its habitat. They may choose from one of the animals discussed in this lesson plan, or they may choose a different animal entirely. Allow students to share their creations with the class, and help them label their pictures if possible. Over the course of the year, while teaching about animals, ask questions about the animal’s habitat.